Before lawyer’s killing, Jungerman searched for ‘lethality’ of guns, prosecutors say

David Jungerman: Success in business, trouble with the law

Here's a timeline of David Jungerman's life from a successful businessman to alleged murderer.
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Here's a timeline of David Jungerman's life from a successful businessman to alleged murderer.

Less than two weeks before an elderly millionaire allegedly shot and killed a Kansas City attorney, he took to Google to apparently figure out which firearm to use in the slaying, Jackson County prosecutors said in newly filed court records.

David G. Jungerman, now 81, searched for where the heart was located and asked the internet, “is a 22 deadly,” prosecutors said.

On his computer, investigators said they found an article he accessed titled: “Can a 22LR caliber bullet penetrate a human skull?”

The incriminating searches were laid out in court documents as prosecutors asked a judge to deny Jungerman’s request to reduce his bond. Jungerman, whose assets total $33 million, has been held without bond since March 2018.

Police said Jungerman shot attorney Tom Pickert at his Brookside home Oct. 25, 2017, a day after Jungerman was served with court papers from a $5.75 million lawsuit Pickert won against him. Jungerman was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

A farmer and maker of baby furniture from Raytown, Jungerman accidentally recorded himself saying he killed Pickert within weeks of the shooting, police have said. He also told an employee he got away with killing a lawyer, according to charging documents.

The lawsuit Pickert won against Jungerman concerned a homeless man Jungerman shot and injured at his warehouse in Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhood. Jungerman had shot and injured three other men in similar circumstances within a month in 2012.

Executing a search warrant at Jungerman’s business after Pickert’s killing, police found a printout of an online Jackson County property tax record for Pickert, which listed his home address, according to prosecutors.

An analysis of his computer then revealed topics Jungerman had allegedly searched for on the internet, such as “where is the best and worse place to get shot by a gun and least likely to die,” the state’s attorneys said.

He also entered into Google: “17 Caliber Rifle,” the same type of firearm later used in the killing, Nelson wrote.

The internet searches about .22 caliber rifles stopped. Searches for .17 caliber rifles were accessed and Walmart stores were mapped, prosecutors wrote in describing the forensic examination of Jungerman’s computer.

Four months after the shooting, a live .17 caliber round was found underneath the seat of Jungerman’s Toyota Sequoia, police said.

Prosecutors think the Google searches show Jungerman conducting “apparent lethality research.”

In the motion for bond reduction, one of Jungerman’s attorneys, Craig Divine, described him as an “elderly gentleman” who was being subjected to “inhumane conditions” at the Jackson County Detention Center, where he has been for more than 450 days.

Jungerman does not receive consistent medication for his seizures and is not getting enough exercise to stay mobile after two knee replacements, according to his attorney.

Prosecutors argued Jungerman has described his health in jail in positive terms and the detention center has been able to accommodate his “common minor afflictions.”

Jungerman would be willing to surrender his passport and stay confined to his home if he were released from jail, his attorney said. Divine said Jungerman does not pose a threat to the public.

But prosecutors called Jungerman a “severe threat to the community,” describing the evidence against him as strong and saying he has shown he has no respect for human life if it poses even a “relatively minor inconvenience to his pecuniary interests.” He is likely to commit another violent felony if he is released, Nelson argued.

Jungerman is also accused of shooting at another man he suspected of stealing metal pipes from his business. His bond was set at $1 million cash only in that case.

Pickert’s widow and family filed a lawsuit against Jungerman. As part of that suit, a Jackson County judge appointed an attorney as a “receiver” to oversee Jungerman’s assets, which have a net worth of $33,834,304 plus millions or tens of millions in additional holdings of property, prosecutors said.

In their response to Jungerman’s motion, prosecutors said police notes summarizing Jungerman’s comments in monitored, non-attorney jail calls showed an “elaborate pattern” of Jungerman directing his family to transfer his assets to relatives, placing them beyond the reach of the receiver. Nelson described Jungerman as “cryptic” on some of the calls.

If released from jail, Jungerman has the financial means to flee, prosecutors said.

Daniel Ross, an attorney representing Jungerman, said it would be improper for him to comment on evidence in a case. He said he planned to file a response to the state’s filing later this week.

Jungerman’s bond reduction hearing was set for July 18. His trial is set to begin Sept. 3.

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Luke Nozicka covers local crime and federal courts for The Kansas City Star. Before joining The Star, he covered breaking news and courts for The Des Moines Register.